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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  March 23, 2013 5:30pm-6:00pm PDT

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involved 30 to 50 cars, and at least four semi trucks. >> truck drivers all over the road. i never seen anything like this. >> it's the worst thing i've ever seen. by far. >> reporter: the crash happened north of denver along interstate 25 near johnstown, colorado. several people were taken to area hospitals but officials say luckily no one was killed. it was the result of heavy snow falling in colorado today, as much as a foot, surprising forecasters who had predicted 2 to 4 inches. this storm system is moving quickly through the plains, walloping east colorado and northern kansas. snarling miles of traffic, and delaying flights at denver airport by three hours. >> it is springtime. so it's possible people are not expecting to see winter weather. but you get too many cars on the road, too much snow, wind reducing the visibilities, and that's all a recipe for disaster. >> reporter: dozens of plows and rescue workers have been on the scene for hours.
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>> get things done as quick as you can. and safely as you can. >> reporter: police say this is an ongoing investigation to try and determine how this happened, and what the chain of events were. but right now the red cross is on scene taking care of those travelers who are now stranded. lester, back to you. >> all right, megan fitzgerald from our denver station kusa, thanks. we turn now to weather channel meteorologist todd santos who is tracking this storm at another area of severe weather. todd, good evening. >> good evening to you, lester. one thing about colorado, of course, i-25 runs right along the edge of the front range. you have the winds blowing east to northeast into it. that lifting enhances some of the snowfall. totals upward of 9 inches in denver south now for denver starting to wind down as the system pushes off toward the east as you mentioned earlier right along the i-70 corridor. there are two sides to the storm. part of it is the snow and that's really just starting to switch over in kansas city and that will eventually travel into the northern ohio valley. but also the severe side of things down here across the south.
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that's where i want to take you right now as we do have the threat tonight. we have at least had some reports already through northern florida of hail up to the size of baseballs. take some of the serious let's say severe thunderstorm warnings again take them seriously i should say. also, though, still a threat for even some isolated tornadoes across southwest georgia the panhandle of florida and southern alabama and that's for tonight. so, again, make sure, as you go to bed you have a way to get your warnings during the overnight hours. tomorrow you see that rain and snow tracking off towards the east a little farther and as far as the snowfall amounts we'll see a number of pockets up to even 12 inches through a good stretch of portions of illinois, the ohio valley which you can see behind me there as i mention it's kind of winding down across colorado, the south and eventually skips over towards the northeast and that's really on monday and that's the mid-atlantic corridor and we'll talk more about that situation agn, lester, this is going to be one of those forecasts we're going to have to follow very closely. it's a good that a lot of these kids have spring break there. at least in new york. >> sounds like you've got your hands full for you there, todd. thank you. it was something else in the sky last night that had a lot of people talking today. a meteor put on a spectacular
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show as it entered the atmosphere on the east coast. more on that tonight from nbc's michelle franzen. >> reporter: the dazzling fireball caught the eyes and awes of people up and down the east coast friday night. photographer bill mckim aimed his camera over the skies of new jersey's battered coastline, hoping to capture his dream shot. >> when i brought it up, okay, this is great. this is better than what i thought i would get. >> reporter: in maryland the security camera also recorded a flash of light, and professional gazers described the fireball bigger than a volleyball, and as bright as a full moon. >> it was thick and green and there were little pieces of light that were falling off of the sides. and it just flashed for a second and it was gone. >> reporter: the american meteor society says it received a record number of reports, more than 1,000, from witnesses in 15 states, washington, d.c., and canada, friday night. >> this is almost unprecedented
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for an astronomical event so this is one of the first times in which people have communicated using social media. >> twitter was also ablaze with comments. one person said a little scary. others posted craziest thing i've ever seen, and definitely the highlight of my life. in february a meteor was spotted in the california sky. a bluish flash of light in the bay area. and the world was stunned by the huge meteorite explosion over the skies of russia. the force of the blast damaging buildings, and injuring more than 1,000 people. experts say the spectacles are common. but all appear to be unrelated. >> they're all random events. >> random events that are rare to witness. >> kind of bummed that i missed seeing it with my eyes. because it had to be something. >> reporter: and breathtaking moments that are even harder to capture. michelle franzen, nbc news, new york.
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for the first time in four years the senate passed a budget early this morning. the $3.7 trillion spending plan for next year was approved by a vote of 50-49. not a single republican voted for it, and now the senate puts itself on a collision course with the republican-controlled house. for more on this we turn to cnbc's chief washington correspondent john harwood. john, how does all this play out? >> well, lester, look, they are going to fight. and they may not be able to reconcile these two documents. the house budget would balance after ten years. repeal obama care. no tax increases. the senate budget doesn't get to balance after ten years, it includes $1 trillion of tax increases, even some stimulus money to try to get the economy going. but it's significant that they're fighting at a lower level of intensity and turmoil. notice that the congress left for easter break without a crisis over a government shutdown. there was no crisis over potential debt limit, and government default earlier this year.
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could come back this summer but so long as it lasts, that's calming for the markets and good for the economy, and it may, lester, leave some space still for a compromise in which democrats would agree to changes in cuts in medicare and social security, and republicans would come up with a little bit more tax revenue, lester. >> all right, john harwood tonight, thank you. president obama wrapped up his four-day visit to the middle east today, after helping israel and turkey end a three-year diplomatic dispute. that, in turn, will help the region deal with the civil war in syria. before he left today, the president turned his attention to the past, visiting jordan's ancient city of petra, one of the world's most celebrated archaeological sites. with the president on his way home, secretary of state john kerry remained in the region. we get more tonight from nbc's chief foreign affairs correspondent, andrea mitchell. >> reporter: john kerry, with jordan's king abdullah at his side, stayed behind, wasting no time trying to deliver on the president's promise of a fresh start for middle east diplomacy.
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shuttling from the king to an afternoon meeting in amman with palestinian president mahmoud abbas, then a quick trip to jerusalem for dinner with israel's prime minister benjamin netanyahu. before returning to amman. kerry is also dealing with an even more urgent crisis for both israel and jordan. the war next door in syria. u.s. and israeli intelligence say the assad regime is poised to use chemical weapons. >> once you let that situation spin out of control, it's very hard to -- to stop, and can have enormous spillover effects across the region. >> reporter: the cia is already training selected rebel groups to guard against a takeover by more radical elements once assad falls. the regime's weakness was demonstrated again thursday, by a suicide bombing at a damascus mosque. killing a prominent assad supporter. today, activists said rebels seized a key air base in the south, along the jordanian border where rebel forces,
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including some islamic militants, are almost face-to-face with israeli border troops. president assad struggling to refute reports that he is afraid to come out of hiding emerged briefly this week for an elaborately staged government photo-op. even posing with his wife. all this as pressure mounts for the u.s. to get involved militarily to stop the slaughter. >> i think we'll end up providing lethal assistance. and i wouldn't be surprised at some point -- first of all, it's a red line is crossed with chemical weapons, that could involve military activity. >> reporter: tonight u.s. officials said kerry told both sides that peace is not only possible, but necessary. even as the u.n. launched an investigation into reports that chemical weapons were used in syria last week. andrea mitchell, nbc news, amman. and it was the kind of meeting not witnessed in modern times. a get-together in italy today between two men who have worn the title pope. pope francis paid a visit to his predecessor benedict xvi at
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castel gandolfo the papal retreat where benedict has retired. francis -- pope francis told benedict, we are brothers. the two men prayed together with the vatican spokesman calling it a moment of great communion in the church. a well-known russian tycoon who amassed great wealth after the fall of the soviet union was found dead today in england. boris berezovsky was a close ally of former president boris yeltsin. in return for backing yeltsin he was able to buy former state assets at bargain prices. he also helped vladimir putin rise to power but later had a falling-out with putin and moved to england. the circumstances of his death were unclear. berezovsky was 67 years old. back in this country the evidence appears to be mounting that a colorado prison parolee killed in a shoot-out this week in texas may have been involved in the brazen murder of a head of colorado's prison system. nbc's kristen dahlgren is in colorado tonight where police are quickly connecting the dots. >> reporter: in the wreckage of
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that texas car chase, authorities have recovered what may be critical evidence. >> if we can link the weapon that was used in texas to the weapon used here in colorado, that would be a big step forward in our investigation. >> reporter: the car colorado parolee evan ebel was driving matches the description of a car seen outside colorado prison chief tom clements' home and near the murder of a denver pizza deliveryman. now a search warrant for the car obtained by nbc news lists hornady 9 millimeter shell casings as the same brand and caliber used in clements' murder. and a domino's pizza shirt or jacket in close proximity to the pizza carrier. >> those things would be considered very strong in terms of helping authorities determine, do they have the right person. >> reporter: investigators are also looking at ebel's associates in prison. an organization that tracks hate groups called colorado prison gangs the 2-11 crew one of the most vicious with a far reach. >> we very often see the leaders
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of these gangs in prison or doing hits on people outside of the prison. >> reporter: on ongoing search for answers as the state gets set to say good-bye to one of its top public officials in an memorial for tom clements on monday. now colorado prisons remain on lockdown tonight, lester. officials here hope to get those test results back early next week. meantime, evan ebel's father is a well-known lawyer here in colorado, even friends with the governor. we spoke to a source close to the family who says he is absolutely devastated by all of this. >> kristen, thank you. president obama weighed in once again today in the fight over guns. in his weekly address the president said each of his proposals to reduce gun violence should get a vote in congress, including a ban on assault weapons. another strong supporter of such a ban is new york's mayor michael bloomberg. he spoke about gun control exclusively with david gregory for tomorrow's "meet the press." >> i don't think there's ever been an issue where the public
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has spoken so clearly where congress hasn't eventually understood and done the right thing. >> you don't think the assault weapons ban is going to pass? >> well, look, we've been fighting since 2007 to get a vote. we are going to have a vote on -- for sure on assault weapons. and we're going to have a vote on background checks. and if we were to get background checks only, it wouldn't be as good as if we got both. but we demanded a plan, and then we demanded a vote. we've got the plan. we're going to get the vote. >> you can see the full conversation with bloomberg tomorrow on "meet the press," as well as david's interview with wayne lapierre, executive vice president of the national rifle association. when "nbc nightly news" continues on this saturday, our special series "in plain sight." why more and more colleges are opening food pantries. it's a sign of the times. and later, "making a difference," how one couple is giving hope to some youngsters who have so little.
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we're back now with more from our year-long focus on poverty. an effort supported by the ford foundation. tonight, american colleges confronting the reality of hunger right on their own campuses. here's nbc's diana alvear. >> reporter: it looks like just another room on the third floor of portland state university's student union. but for senior brandon keane it is a life line. >> it's nice to be able to eat more than once a day.
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and this place allows us to do that. >> reporter: each week at least 200 students slip into this room. the school's food pantry, to select as many as five items of donated food. >> hello. >> reporter: today, leif zuke, a senior, gulf war veteran, and financial aid student, picks a couple of cans of soup, some rice, and tuna. what difference has having a pantry like this made for you? >> oh, tremendous. don't go to bed going, all right, how am i going to make what little i have left stretch for the next two weeks? >> reporter: the average cost of tuition at state colleges rose last year by more than 8%. the volunteers who run this pantry know there are more students who can use this help. >> i don't want people to feel the way that i did. >> reporter: volunteer amber has been in their shoes. >> that's one of the reasons why we have chosen not to i.d. anybody who needs to use the pantry. because, we think it's hard enough for them to decide to come in and ask for help. >> reporter: what's happening here in portland is taking root on college campuses all across
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the country. there are now more than 50 university food pantries dedicated to keeping students from having to make some agonizing choices. >> i got to a point where i wasn't getting enough hours at work to afford food or anything like that. so i finally decided to come to the food pantry for assistance. >> reporter: at the university of arkansas, ashley horton is earning her degree in child development. >> i didn't want anybody to see me coming down, but once i got in i just filled out all the paperwork and felt good once i finally realized i have some food to go home with. >> reporter: these food pantries fill a gap in the american safety net. while many of the students here might qualify for food stamps, to get them a student must either work 20 hours a week or hold a work-study position on campus. of which few are available. and there's another problem, the campus food pantries depend on donations. and sometimes, like the day we were at portland state, the cupboard was almost bare. >> we constantly run out of food, and it's disheartening to
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me as a person that runs it to have students come in here and go, gosh, it's so empty. >> reporter: perhaps tomorrow there will be more food in the pantry. tonight, leif knows he has at least one meal he can count on. diana alvear, nbc news, portland, oregon. and when we come back here tonight, a sheriff deputy makes a most unusual apprehension.
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a spectacular air show in florida today as the navy's famed blue angels took to the sky for what could be one of their last performances in the foreseeable future. the issue those mandatory federal spending cuts that remain in effect due to the sequester. had pentagon order grounding
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these aerial demonstrations. millions dreaming of another kind of high flying. one that would come with winning the powerball jackpot now at $320 million. the drawing is tonight and the jackpot is the sixth highest ever. people in 42 states and washington, d.c. were scrambling for tickets. even with odds at about 175 million to 1, as they say, you never know. and it's not something you're called to do every day as a deputy sheriff, but jessica mcgregor decided to take matters into her own hands when a seven-foot alligator tried to make its way onto the grounds of a middle school in lake county, florida. after lassoing the animal she eventually calmed it down as another officer watched from a safe distance. up next, "making a difference" in a place where those with so little can dream big.
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finally tonight our "making a difference" report, about hopes and dreams that may come true for the girls who attend a remarkable school in africa. chelsea clinton has the story tonight. >> reporter: it's storybook time at the kibera school for girls in nairobi, kenya. a special experience in a unique place. children like vanessa ioma are some of the poorest on earth. but here -- ♪ -- she gets a chance at a better future. >> my dream is to be a doctor. >> reporter: these kids live in a place where dreaming isn't easy. >> welcome. >> reporter: thank you.
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>> this is my home. this is where i grew up. >> reporter: kennedy was also raised here in kibera, kenya's sprawling slum where about 1 million people live without clean water or electricity, and two out of every ten children die before their fifth birthday. kennedy and his american wife jessica are helping some of the girls beat the odds. they built the kibera school for girls as a labor of love. why do you all like clifford so much? >> because he was a good dog. >> a good dog. >> reporter: in a country where most children never attend school, these girls are getting the skills to break the cycle of poverty. >> it's an amazing thing to see when a parent looks at their child, and sees that they have the chance of having such a better future. >> reporter: esther ioma wanted to study medicine. but she was forced to marry at 14. >> i am lucky that i find this school.
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i see my baby can take my dream. >> reporter: she now dreams her daughter vanessa becomes a doctor. >> i am a strong woman. >> i believe in myself. >> i believe in myself. >> reporter: the school also provides a safe haven from the slums' constant dangers. >> it's really even hard to talk about. but 27% of our students have been sexually assaulted. we can provide a safe place to protect these girls. >> reporter: positive role models help. once a homeless boy who taught himself to read and write, kennedy is now known as the mayor of kibera, and he graduated from wesleyen university in connecticut. >> it does not matter where you come from, only where you want to go. >> reporter: for kennedy and jess, married in june, this place, and these girls, are home. chelsea clinton, nbc news, nairobi, kenya. that's "nbc nightly news" for this saturday. i'm lester holt.
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for all of us at nbc news, good night.
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fans say they will be rooting for the bears, crossing their fingers but most predict it will be a very close game. >> i think it's amazing. we just came down from san francisco. we grew up here our whole lives. team cal at home is basically the dream. >> i'm going st. louis by four and cal buzzer beater by one in overtime. >> the cal bears are a big part of the bay area. we expect a big crowd and i think it will be a good site for the home team. go bears. >> cal and syracuse take the
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court at 6:40 this evening. we will bring you more from the fans here tonight win or lose at 11:00. >> thanks very much. new details in the case of the san jose mother stabbed in broad daylight on friday. police released this picture of the man suspected of killing his girlfriend across the street from the sheriff's department. he had been stalking the woman for at least two years. the 29-year-old victim leaves blind a 10-year-old son and had a restraining order against him. >> detectives say he may be headed to mexico, possibly driving a dark green


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